Sunday, October 28, 2007

Just What the Doctor Ordered

The "drought" has continued the past few weeks in my riding life. Georgia got a good dose of rain, but my cycling motivation remained dried up. Every ride was worse than the one before. My legs felt like cement, no matter what I tried. It was getting to the point of wanting to put the bikes on the front lawn with a "For Sale" sign on them. But enough experience has taught me in times like these it is best to stay off the bike until I literally "feel" like riding. So, I didn't ride.

Friday night was decision time for the weekend's activities. Nothing interested me, and Roger was frustrated with his lack of choices. As I read an email aloud to him from our friend in N.C., I could see him perk up. He was excited at the prospect of driving 3 1/2 hrs up to Pisgah for a day of riding with Duckman. His excitement must have sparked something in me, because all of a sudden, I "felt" like going along too. There would be no pressure for me to ride fast. Raja would have someone to "play" with, and I could be free to ride at my whim.

My history with Pisgah is not the greatest. Our first trip there goes back to October of 1989. Our bikes were fully rigid, and we barely had 2 yrs of mountain biking experience. Many trips ensued from that point on, often in the company of our fellow cycling friends. I was always off the back from the start of any ride, terrified over the terrain, and having a horrible time. Pisgah is always wet, always rocky, always rooty, and always difficult at best. Then throw in the likes of Greg Turner, Marvin Masson, and John Courier as your riding companions and you have a recipe for disaster. My only memories of Pisgah are of pain and suffering and some of the worst crashes I've ever had. So Why am I going to Pisgah to have Fun?

We met up with Duckman at the Fish Hatchery with foggy skies to greet us. With hopes the clouds would soon burn off, I changed into my cycling gear. Raja brought a demo Turner 29r to ride, since Pisgah would be the best testing ground of all. Duckman was on his 24lb Intense Spider, and I had my 27lb Blur.

I was pleasantly surprised as we pedaled up the gravel road toward Cove Creek Trail. Duckman was taking an easy spin, not pushing the pace at all. I kept waiting for the inevitable surge to hammer on up the climb. But it never came. We chatted and admired the beautiful fall colors and lovely blue skies. The clouds had burned off quickly revealing a spectacular Fall day. It was actually relaxing as we spun slowly up the road feeling completely carefree.

The entire ride ended up being this way. There was no hammering, chasing, or intervals. No challenges were made, no gauntlet thrown down.

I cannot remember the last time I rode with someone else (other than Raja) and we just pedaled along in oblivion to our pace or heart rates. In fact, I did not even wear my heart rate monitor. I felt so free! It was beautiful. I was having fun. Faint memories of having fun on the bike were coming back to me. The rough terrain was not so terrifying because I wasn't coughing up a lung trying to stay with the pack. My 4.5" of plush suspension was doing all the work. It was playtime, not race time.

We stopped along the way if something pretty struck our fancy; pretty waterfalls, lovely rhododendrons, babbling brooks, and the refreshing beauty of the Pisgah Forest. If I didn't feel like attempting a log crossing, then I didn't do it. No heckling or poking fun.

I could have ridden all day like this. We were out there a good bit of the day. We must have started around 10:30ish and didn't stop till 4:00. I didn't want it to end. Finally the fatigue of being out for over 5 hrs began to set in and my body was ready to call it a day. Wow, I rode Pisgah without one negative incident, no crashes, no getting dropped, and no suffering. This is just what I needed to recharge my mental batteries and keep me from selling my bikes.

Racing, training and hard riding all have their place. But you gotta keep it fun. Otherwise a virus takes hold, eventually sapping the life and energy right out. You forget why you began in the first place. Raja and I started mountain biking together because it was fun, we explored new places together, and it was an exciting way to meet new friends. Let's keep it that way. Thanks Pisgah. You're just what the doctor ordered for my ailing heart.


Mark D. said...

Great write up and pictures.

It is good to hear that someone else other than me is having problems in the "motivation" department.Sometimes being off the bike for awhile is just what the doctor ordered.

Becky said...

Now that's my kind of biking! Good for you for enjoying the moment. Looks like a great day.